George Nader, a well-connected Middle East fixer for Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign and a witness in the Russia meddling probe, was arrested for possessing child pornography, the US Justice Department said.
A Lebanese-American businessman, Nader was arrested at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York City on Monday on charges of “transporting visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct,” the department said.
The arrest was based on a 13-month-old sealed indictment that said Nader had sexually explicit pictures of children on his mobile phone when he entered the United States on a previous trip on January 17, 2018.
Nader, who has a history of child pornography cases stretching back to the 1980s, faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 40 years.
The businessman, who joined meetings between top aides of Trump and Middle East officials, also lobbied for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as an adviser to its powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, commonly known as MBZ, a close Saudi ally.
He joined top UAE officials in a key meeting with Trump aides in December 2016 at New York’s Trump Tower, where the prince sought to establish close relations with the incoming president.
Weeks later Nader helped arrange a meeting in Seychelles which brought together Trump emissary Erik Prince and a close adviser of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kirill Dmitriev, who was likewise seeking ties with the new administration.
In April 2017 Nader, working as an adviser to the UAE, wired $2.5m to a top Trump presidential campaign fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, through a company in Canada, the Associated Press news agency reported last year.
In 2018, he was also interviewed several times by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia meddling investigation as a cooperating witness.
Mueller’s report documents Nader’s role in introducing Dmitriev to Prince, who discussed improving ties between the US and Russia. Nader’s name reportedly shows up more than 100 times in the report.
The businessman was arrested in the US in 1985 for importing child pornography from the Netherlands, but the charges were dropped on a technicality.
In 1991 he was charged again and sentenced to six months in jail. The records of that case were sealed, reportedly due to Nader’s assisting the US government in secret matters.
He also reportedly spent one year in prison in the Czech Republic in the early 2000s for sex crimes involving minors.
Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak on Monday ordered Nader be held overnight after a federal prosecutor argued that he was a danger to the community and a flight risk. A bail hearing for Nader is expected to resume on Tuesday afternoon.